According to Forrester Consulting, the U.S. affiliate marketing industry is expected to reach $6.8 billion by 2020, with more than 80% of brands utilizing this potent way of marketing, but how many affiliate programs are out there? This very question came to me from an industry friend earlier this morning and, apparently, he isn’t the only one wondering. You will find the same question on the list of the most popular affiliate marketing questions asked on Google too:
Having found no published information on this, but possessing access to affiliate accounts on all major affiliate networks in the USA, I have decided tackle this question myself and analyze the US affiliate marketing landscape from this particular angle. As a result, I’ve extrapolated data on the number of affiliate programs on each network, which I would like to present to you today.
U.S. Affiliate Programs (by Network/Platform)
Setting the advertiser’s country as the USA, or (whenever the former was not possible) filtering programs by the brand’s shipping region/geography (setting the same at the United States), on 11/30/2018 we’ve gathered the following data:
AvantLink: 677 US affiliate programs
Awin (formerly Affiliate Window): 290
CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction): 1,492
Impact (formerly Impact Radius): 458
Rakuten Marketing Affiliate (formerly LinkShare): 1,412
Pepperjam (once eBay Enterprise Affiliate Network): 508
In-house Programs: ~400
To read these numbers with proper perspective, two important caveats must be kept in mind:
In-House Based Affiliate Programs
There are many U.S. brands that do not belong to any affiliate network. Examples of these range from such e-commerce giants as Amazon (that runs its famous Amazon Associates affiliate program), eBay (that works with affiliates through its own eBay Partner Network), and iTunes (with their own affiliate program), to numerous other merchants in various niches (e.g.: HubSpot and AWeber in the SaaS vertical, DreamHost and SiteGround in hosting, James Allen in diamonds, AliExpress in electronic retail, ETX in trading, and many more).
It is hard to estimate the exact number of such “in-house based” affiliate programs in the U.S. For the purpose of the above calculation we put that number at 400; though it may, very well, be larger than this.
Multi-Platform Affiliate Programs
Some brands run affiliate programs on more than one affiliate network (or technology platform). Shutterstock, for example, has affiliate programs on Impact, Admitad; and they are definitely not the only brand that does this.
In light of this, in order to arrive at an absolutely accurate number of unique affiliate programs, one would need to perform some deduplication within the above-quoted numbers. Having said this, we do not believe these “duplicates” to account for more than 3% of the above-presented total.
To summarize, we believe it is safe to assume that more 6,000 (six thousand) U.S. brands dabble with affiliate marketing, running more than 6,500 affiliate programs.
If you have any input on this topic – whatever tool, experience, or system your thoughts may be based on – it would be greatly appreciated, and I encourage you to submit it using the “Comments” area below.